A school bus driver has been punished for praying with students on his bus, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
“You’ve got the freedom to exercise your religious beliefs,” maintained George Nathaniel, the driver who was removed from his route last week by Quality Care Transportation.
Citing the Constitution, Nathaniel said that the removal violates his rights, according to KTSP.
A Minneapolis school bus driver was removed from his route last week for leading students in prayer while driving.
George Nathaniel, 54:
“That’s where the Constitution comes in”
“You’ve got the freedom to exercise your religious beliefs.”
— Tim Gradous (@tgradous) April 21, 2018
Quality Care owner Muk Musa said that officials at the charter school to which Nathaniel was taking students complained to the bus company that their children were being forced to pray.
Musa said Nathaniel was not fired, but he has not been assigned any routes since his removal from the route to Nasha Shkola, a charter school with a large population of Russian immigrants.
Nathaniel, a pastor at the Elite Church of the First Born and for Grace Missionary Baptist Church in Minneapolis, said prayer is a missing element from the lives of children and added that he believes prayer should be returned to public schools.
The bus driver said he was surprised that anyone objected to the prayers, something he began this winter as part of the pupils’ two-hour ride to school. He said he had told the parents about it, and denied the allegations that any children were ever forced to pray.
“The students would volunteer to lead the prayer,” Nathaniel said.
He believed the cause of the complaint was that some students were disciplined for being rude.
This is not the first time Nathaniel has been punished over his commitment to prayer.
In 2013, he was removed from another school bus driving job for praying with students, according to the Star Tribune. In that incident, he ignored a warning to stop.
“I let them know I am a pastor and I am going to pray,” said Nathaniel.
At that time, he explained his practice.
“We start out with a song,” he said. “Then each person will pray if they want to pray. If they don’t want to pray, they don’t have to pray. Then I will pray and ask them if they want to join me in prayer. Just give them something constructive and positive to go to school with.”
Nathaniel said faith is meant to be shared.
“We got to get Christians to be able to be Christians and not have to be closet Christians,” he said. “You have something good, you are going to share it with somebody.”
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